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The Right Goals

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By Tammy Marshall Cardwell

It has rightly been said that you cannot reach a goal you have not set. In homeschooling, it is imperative that you not only set goals, but also consider them carefully, because not all goals are created equal. Now that my own children are grown and gone, one with children of his own, I can look back on our homeschooling years and easily reduce my true list of goals down to three: Guide them into loving the Lord God with all their heart, soul, and might; inspire within them a love of learning; and teach them how to learn.

Regardless of what we do for our children academically, our first responsibility is to guide them towards a strong relationship with God. The fact is, a thousand years from now it probably won’t matter if they have grown up to be plumbers or PhDs. There are plenty of both in heaven, and plenty of both in hell. What will matter a thousand years from now is where they are. Statistics show that the majority of born again adults decided to serve God as children. With this in mind, we must do our part as responsible parents to help them make that decision early and teach them how to study the Word of God and apply it in their everyday lives. True education is built upon this foundation. (Proverbs 1:7)

The second most important thing we can inspire in our children is a love of learning. For some, this love comes naturally. For others, it is an acquired taste. The sad thing is that even those who come by a love of learning naturally can see that love die if it isn’t nurtured or, worse, if it is crushed. You can nurture a child’s love of learning in many ways. Let him see that you love to learn. Strive to make learning as pleasurable and exciting as possible. Help him see its true rewards. There are also many ways to crush a love of learning. Choose the wrong curriculum and insist that the child is the failure instead of the materials you selected. Make it clear that all learning is “work that must be done, like it or not.” Some learning is work that must be done, but nowhere near all! Perhaps most powerful of all, let your child see that you dislike learning. (Note: If you dislike learning, I suggest you stop trying to teach your children, for now, and work on this area in you first!)

Finally, teach them how to learn. That we are to teach them “everything they need to know” is an educational fallacy. You cannot possibly teach your children everything they will need to know in life. In fact, even if it were possible, it would be unwise; science has shown that it is those who continue to learn throughout life who are most likely to keep their mental faculties. Learning is a vital part of our continual growth; it cannot stop at graduation, and the bulk of what we learn in life we learn ON OUR OWN. Consequently, it is vital that we see ourselves not at teachers of facts and formulas, but of learning skills. The old adage “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” holds true here as well. Teach a child something and he’ll have it. Teach him how to learn, and he’ll always be able to learn that thing and anything else he needs as well.

Few things in life are certain. We can strive always to do everything just right, and end up with a result we never bargained for. We can even have the future planned out carefully, only to see life throw us a curve ball we never could have anticipated. Regardless, if we constantly seek God’s guidance, keeping our focus on Him and adjusting our steps as He leads, He will take us down the right path. As we set the goals that line up with His plan, and work towards them, we will eventually see ourselves making progress towards the ultimate goal of sending strong young men and women of God out to fulfill their destinies.

Copyright ©  2012 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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